Here Come the Brides 

By Michael Fairman

Originally published on Advocate.com February 12 2009 12:00 AM ET

Two women get
hitched this Friday on ABC’s daytime drama All My
Children
... but not without a hitch. Friday,
February 13 -- continued on Monday the 16th -- marks
another milestone for the long-running soap: Bianca
Montgomery (Eden Riegel) and Reese Williams (Tamara
Braun) tie the knot in the first same-sex wedding
ceremony on a soap.

AMC is known to be the leader in LGBT daytime
TV. The show led the charge with the introduction of
daytime's first lesbian character, played by Donna
Pescow, in 1982, followed by the first lesbian kiss in
2003, the first transgender character in 2007, and even a
few fizzled gay-male story line attempts in the 1990s.

Coming on the
heels of Proposition 8's passage in California, and the
recently enacted bans on same-sex marriage in
other states, this latest story line is significant.
Reese and Bianca are granted a legal union in the
state of Connecticut, where marriage equality became a
legal reality in late 2008.

But until the
gals say “I do,” many Advocate.com readers are
keeping an eye on the budding relationship between
Reese and her bride-to-be's brother-in-law, Zach
Slater. Is AMC not prepared to let the gals
walk off into the sunset together? Is there another
sexual identity crisis just around the corner? Is a man
going to come between these lady lovebirds?

To get the
answers, Advocate.com went straight to the top and chatted
with AMC executive producer Julie Hanan
Carruthers. She speaks candidly about the true intent behind
the Bianca story line, lays some fears to rest,
and previews the Valentine’s Day wedding and a
moment that will change the course of Reese and
Bianca's relationship. But is it forever?

Advocate.com:Viewer concern among the LGBT community is that Reese
will leave Bianca for Zach, and it has angered many who
worry that she has feelings for him. How
would you respond?
Julie Hanan Carruthers: First of all, it’s
not true. I think what’s confused in Reese’s
head is she has misinterpreted a friendship. Zach is
one of the [few] people who have not kicked her to the
curb, so to speak, in Pine Valley. She is a confused,
insecure person at the moment. She has never wavered in her
commitment to Bianca. It’s solid. Reese has
just had a lot of emotional stuff hit. Her family is
rejecting and judging her... in both her family and
Bianca’s.

However, something happens right before Bianca and
Reese’s wedding that is a time bomb.
The night before the wedding when Kendall,
Zach’s wife, nails her with a backhanded toast,
Reese gets a little drunk, and the person who consoles
her is Zach. It’s a moment where she kisses him and
then realizes, “Oh, my god, what the heck am I
doing? The person I love is Bianca, and the person you
love is Kendall. What just happened?” That moment is
what unravels the world, and unravels it in a very
“soap” way, dramatic and misunderstood,
where someone tells somebody and it grows bigger than it
ever was. The people who were involved have resolved it.
When Reese says her vows to Bianca in that wedding,
there is nothing more real. The problem is the
audience that watches the show knows somebody saw
something that shouldn’t have been seen. They are
legally married at the moment Bianca finds out.

ALL MY CHILDREN EDEN RIEGEL XLARGE (ABC) | ADVOCATE.COM  

Some fans were upset when it appeared that Reese
might consider leaving Bianca for a man.
She is not considering it. That’s the
audience rewriting what’s there. It’s
not being written that way at all. Reese has never wavered
in what she wants.

Even though Reese had a boyfriend in the past, whom
we met on-air?
Yes, but she was very clear about that. The
reason she did not marry him is because she felt she
was lying and going through the motions of what her
family told her to do. And when she did come out as a
lesbian, it was right before she was ready to make a
commitment to this man. We have had in-depth scenes
with the people who care about Bianca, being sure she was
not someone to get Reese out of a bad relationship.
It’s never been about that. I don’t know
how to stress this more. Never has she played a moment
of, “I want Zach more than I want Bianca," or "I
would leave Bianca for Zach.” He has literally
just been a friend. Look, we tantalize in this genre.
We do it whether we do it with heterosexual or homosexual
couples. It’s what the genre is.

If you were looking for conflict, did you consider
a story where another woman tantalized Reese, having
that be the thorn in their side?
We are
working within a canvas of people who are interrelated
and connected. For our audience, it’s always more
powerful if it is someone you know well and would
least expect. If we brought in a character out of
nowhere, they would worry about Bianca, but they would
not be invested in Reese at all, particularly now with Zach
being the donor (for Bianca's baby with Reese). It
complicates it in a delicious way.

 ALL MY CHILDREN TAMARA BRAUN XLARGE (ABC) | ADVOCATE.COM

You do get why people would be upset if Reese left
Bianca for a man?
I understand why they might be upset. As
respectful and supportive as we are of the gay and
lesbian community, the story is not just for them. The
story is for a large audience. We are telling tantalizing
soap stories. They do not always come off politically
correct, as much as we are trying to be responsible.
Do I understand it as a human being? Absolutely! And
as an executive producer? Absolutely! Does that mean it
would never ever be done? No. We are not doing it here
now, but in a dramatic arena, it’s an
interesting story.

You moved their wedding from Pennsylvania and Pine
Valley to Connecticut, where marriage is legal between
same-sex couples, to stay true to life.
When we
committed to doing the wedding, it was important to
do it in Connecticut. That way, we made everything
legal and appropriate with the baby and the family. What we
are doing is telling a story about people. People have
flaws and they make mistakes, and it’s how they
overcome them. The way that they love is what makes you
connect to them.

Bianca became mistrustful when she noticed the bond
between Reese and Zach. She had gone through something
similar with her ex-partner, Maggie. So fans have
doubts that they will find happiness.
It’s going to have the ending everyone
wants. But the journey to the ending is a rough one
and that’s what’s making it so spectacular. I
have to say, great credit is due to these two
actresses. I believe every second that they love each
other, even when there is the breakup after the
wedding.

Reese seems to be a very complicated woman, and now
she is going to have to earn her way back into
Bianca’s life, correct?
She may not be the poster child to represent the
lesbian women in the world. But at the same time, she
is very responsible, as are the writers portraying a
woman dealing with a crisis and trying to ground herself in
her identity. In the spring, Bianca returns to give
resolution to the story. The journey Reese has to take
to earn Bianca’s trust again is significant.

ALL MY CHILDREN SUSAN LUCCI TAMARA BRAUN EDEN RIEGEL WEDDING XLARGE (ABC) | ADVOCATE.COM
   

Give us a sneak peak into the wedding ceremony of
Bianca and Reese.
The wedding is spectacular, lovely and warm.
It’s one of those bittersweet, “Oh, my
God, when is it going to happen” moments. It’s
beautiful. They have their first dance and it’s very
romantic.

GLAAD president Neil G. Giuliano released this
statement in honor of the milestone: “Bianca and
Reese’s wedding is a joyful day that
countless people -- gay and straight alike -- dream of
for themselves and the ones they love. It’s a
celebration of love, commitment, and family, and
we’re thrilled that All My
Children
’s viewers will be able to
experience the joy of that day right alongside
them.” How does it make you feel to hear that?
It makes me very proud. It was very important to
all of us. We pulled out all the stops on the wedding.

What about Erica Kane? Will she try to stop her
daughter’s wedding, since she has mistrusted Reese?
Erica is being a supportive mom, and does not
have a problem with Reese. Once Bianca has committed
her love, Erica says, “I want you happy, and
that’s all I want.” And Erica is not privy to
anything that happened until Bianca is.

ALL MY CHILDREN TAMARA BRAUN EDEN RIEGEL KISS XLARGE (ABC) | ADVOCATE.COM
   

There have been numerous times that the two
characters kiss full-on and are seen in bed together. It
seems this has been integrated in the soap,
instead of making it a major PR event.
When I came to the show as EP, it was right
after the first lesbian kiss between Lena and Bianca.
That was almost six years ago. At the time it was a
really big deal, and it was covered in the media as,
“There was a lesbian kiss in daytime
television.” It was a huge milestone. I think the
story we are telling now, and the way it’s being
accepted, is a very interesting commentary on the
world.

Are you getting pushback from viewers? A little bit of pushback, but we have strong
ratings right now. People aren’t tuning out,
because they are connected to the characters. I think
the audience is more invested in the characters than the
political statement, and quite frankly, that is how
you open people’s eyes.

When you went about laying out the story, did you
just go with your gut instinct, or did you also do some
significant research?
We trusted our guts. We went with, “We are
telling a love story and we are going to tell it like
we tell a love story.” So that was our
guideline. As far as technical things, we don’t know.
For instance, does Reese have rights to the children?
Is it automatic when they get married? Does she have
to adopt? If Bianca carried Gaby, is Reese considered a
parent? Does she have to get special papers to become a
parent? Those types of legal issues we had to study,
but as far as the human connection, we all went with
what we do here.

 ALL MY CHILDREN TAMARA BRAUN EDEN RIEGEL X390 (ABC) | ADVOCATE.COM

Tell me what Eden’s performance brings to the table? There is validity and an authenticity that she
brings to her role. The viewers have been on this
journey with her since she came out to her mother, and
when she was raped and had Miranda, and then the baby was
stolen from her. She has shown commitment to her identity
and who she is with such grace and integrity, and she
never wavers. What she brings to this story, besides
her love and vulnerability, is strength when she feels
betrayed. I told Eden this when she did the scenes in
which it comes to her attention what happened the
night before the wedding. She gives one of the most
powerful performances I have seen by any actress.

And Tamara Braun (Reese) has been a revelation in
this role.
Tamara is walking a tightrope. She feels a lot of
responsibility socially to tell this with integrity,
and it’s complex. You are getting all the
feedback from the readers, and she is anticipating feedback
that way. She wants to make sure she tells the story
clearly, that she loves Bianca. I think Tamara has
done a stupendous job. Both women have taken so much
time and energy delivering performances, and spending time
discussing these scenes almost ad nauseum to make sure that
they are really portraying the complexity of this
story in an honest way.

In closing, will we need hankies for the wedding?You’ll need hankies in a good way. It’s
great! I have to say it’s one of our better
weddings.